May Day protests: Demonstrators vow to send message to Trump
In this April 24, 2017 photo, Pastor Don Taylor, of a suburban Chicago organizing group, speaks to immigrant rights advocates in downtown Chicago. (AP)
Immigrant rights and union groups will be amon those marching in cities across the U.S. on Monday to mark May Day and protest against President Trump’s efforts to boost deportations.
Tens of thousands of immigrants and their allies are expected to rally in cities such as New York, Chicago, Seattle and Los Angeles. Demonstrations also are planned for dozens of smaller cities from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., to Portland, Ore. Activists have urged people to skip work, school and shopping to highlight the importance of immigrants in American communities.
“The message we want to send him is that we are united,” Angelica Salas, the executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times. “When he thinks that immigrants are isolated and that others will not stand up for our immigrant communities, he’s wrong.”
While union members traditionally march on May 1 for workers’ rights in countries around the world, the day has become a rallying point for immigrants in the U.S. since massive demonstrations were held on the date in 2006 against a proposed immigration enforcement bill.
In recent years, immigrant rights protests shrank as groups diverged and shifted their focus on voter registration and lobbying. Larger crowds are expected to return this year as immigrant groups have joined with Muslim organizations, women’s advocates and others in their united opposition to Trump administration policies.
"We have never seen such an outpouring of support since we have since the election of Donald Trump," said Kica Matos, a spokeswoman for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement.
In addition to rallies, immigrant rights activists in Indiana, Massachusetts and Texas are calling for strikes to show Americans the demand for immigrant labor and immigrants’ purchasing power.
"On this day, we will not go to work. We will not go to school. We will not buy anything," said Francisca Santiago, a farmworker from Homestead, Fla.
Immigrant advocates said they hope their message will reach Trump, congressional lawmakers and the public, as well as provide a sense of unity and strength to those opposed to the administration’s policies. In spite of Trump’s avowed crackdown on illegal immigration, many said they hoped a show of strength would help persuade politicians to rethink their plans.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.